Pedestrians are amongst the most vulnerable people on the road, and unfortunately, pedestrian-related accidents are common. In fact, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, an average of 30 to 40 pedestrians are victims of accidents on Chicago roads and sidewalks every year.
Unfortunately, many of these pedestrians do not know their legal rights after being involved in a pedestrian accident, which is why it is important to be aware of the laws, as well as understand how liability is determined.
The Rules of the Road
It is important to understand that according to Illinois law, pedestrians have the right of way. What this means is that drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and other areas (such as sidewalks) where people may be walking or running.
Drivers must also exercise extra caution when near schools and playgrounds, as children may unexpectedly dart into traffic without warning. If a driver fails to abide by these laws and strikes a pedestrian, he or she will likely be found liable for any resulting injuries or property damage.
Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents
Pedestrian accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, but the most common are as follows:
- Distracted Driving: This usually happens when the driver is doing something else other than driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, or fiddling with the infotainment center.
- Intoxication: Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a big cause of pedestrian accidents.
- Poor Visibility: Darkness, fog, and inclement weather are also responsible for pedestrian accidents
- Speeding: If a driver is speeding, he may be unable to stop in time to avoid a collision with a pedestrian.
- Poor Road Conditions: Poor lighting, inadequate signage, and potholes can contribute to pedestrian accidents.
Are Pedestrians Ever at Fault?
Drivers are not the only ones who need to follow the laws. As a pedestrian, you also need to follow the laws of the roadway to protect yourself – and others – from harm.
For example, you must obey traffic signals such as stop signs and red lights, just as drivers must do. You must also make sure that you can see approaching cars before crossing the street, even if you have the right of way.
If you fail to do so and are hit by a car, you may be found partially or fully responsible for any resulting damages/injuries.
But let us assume that you followed the law and the accident was, in fact, the driver’s fault. What are your legal rights?
The Legal Rights of Pedestrians After an Accident
According to Illinois law, as a pedestrian, you have the legal right to seek compensation for your injuries. The driver can be held liable for the accident and be required to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and any other damage.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, you can even ask for punitive damages. This typically only applies when the driver exhibited negligent behavior or recklessness.
Now that you know your rights, it’s important to understand all the steps you must take to ensure that you protect these rights.
Steps to Take After a Pedestrian Accident in Chicago
Step 1: Seek medical attention immediately. Even if you do not think you have sustained any injuries, you need to get checked out by a doctor, since many injuries and ailments don’t manifest until several days later. Plus, having your health history properly documented, diagnosed and treated will strengthen your case tremendously.
Step 2: Take pictures of the accident scene to preserve evidence. Additionally, it is important to get the contact information of any witnesses present at the moment.
Step 3: Contact the police so you can get a report detailing everything that happened.
Step 4: Contact a pedestrian accident lawyer, who can help you better understand your rights and navigate through the legal process.
Following the steps outlined here is not only important to secure your rights, but also to defend yourself in the event of comparative negligence.
When Both Parties Are Liable: Comparative Negligence
In some cases, liability can be split between the driver and pedestrian depending on what each party did leading up to the accident. This concept is known as comparative negligence.
Comparative negligence means that both parties were negligent in some capacity, but that one was more negligent than the other. This concept is commonly used when determining fault in car accidents involving pedestrians in Illinois.
A judge or jury will examine all relevant evidence before assigning specific amounts of fault to each party involved in the accident based on their degree of culpability. Once these percentages are determined, each party will then bear responsibility for his/her respective share of damages/injuries caused by the accident.
This is why you must follow the law when you are walking, running, or driving. Accidents can only be avoided when everyone follows the law, as well as proper safety protocols.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, accidents involving cars and pedestrians still occur, despite everyone’s best efforts.
What to Do After an Accident
Navigating the legal process after an accident can be complicated and confusing. An experienced pedestrian accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and if you have a valid legal claim.
They will evaluate your case, help you get the compensation you deserve, and ensure that your rights are protected.
If you have been involved in a pedestrian accident in Chicago or the surrounding area, call our office today to book a free consultation call to discuss the specific circumstances of your case. At Drake & Collopy, P.C., we specialize in helping injured individuals just like you in and around the Chicago area.